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Mamata Banerjee mum, state bureaucrats in a quandary over Rohingyas in Bengal jails

The Centre has sent queries about the Rohingyas in Bengal about a month ago, but the chief minister has not yet given her nod to the bureaucrats to respond.

kolkata Updated: Oct 04, 2017 11:41 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Bengal,Mamata Banerjee,Jails
Mamata Banerjee has adopted a stand that is opposite to that taken by the Centre on the Rohingya question.(HT Photo)

Bureaucrats of West Bengal government are in total quandary on whether to reply to the Union government’s queries seeking details on Rohingya refugees languishing in different prisons in the state.

Their trouble stems from the fact that chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not giving any signal on whether to reply to those queries.Incidentally, her stand is contradictory to the position of the Narendra Modi government.

Read: SC rejects govt’s stand on Rohingyas, says judiciary can review executive decision to deport refugees

“It almost a month that Union home ministry has forwarded a set of queries seeking details of the Rohingyas locked up in different prisons of Bengal. However, we are to get any signal from the chief minister on whether to reply to the Centre’s queries,” said a senior bureaucrat of the state government.

“It is clear from the Union government’s queries that their final plan is deportation, or push back of the refugees. But we are unable to anything on this until and unless chief minister gives any specific instruction. The Union home ministry has also sought details about them like when they were nabbed and since when they are in the prisons,” the state government official said.

Currently there are 230 Rohingya prisoners in different prisons of the state. In addition there are 44 Rohingya children residing is different welfare homes of the state. Booked under charges of illegal immigration, these Rohingya refugees are mainly locked in Dum Dum central correctional home, Malda district correctional home, Berhampore central correctional home and Alipore women's correctional home. They have brought to these prisons in and after 2010.

Read: Mamata supports Rohingya refugees, sides with UN instead of PM

“We do support the @UN appeal to help the Rohingya people. We believe that all commoners are not terrorists. We are really concerned,” Mamata Banerjee tweeted on September 15.

The Centre has said it will deport Rohingya refugees, an ethnic minority from Myanmar who have fled their home soil after an intense military crackdown by the military. The UN has compared the crackdown to ethnic cleansing.

Mamata Banerjee has issued standing instructions that any query from the Centre on any state related issue should be replied with approval from her.

“Time and again the Union government has refuted the official figures of the state correctional services departments and claimed that many more Rohingya refugees have taken private shelters in the border adjacent villages of the districts such as North 24 Parganas and Malda. However, the state police, is yet to have any specific information that authenticates Centre’s claims,” the state government official said.

Meanwhile, several human rights groups including West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights have appealed to the state government not to deport the Rohingyas and push them towards utter uncertainty.

First Published: Oct 04, 2017 11:41 IST